First-preference votes

This article is about the designation of a first-preference to a particular candidate. For systems which use preferential voting, see Preferential voting.
Example ranked voting voting ballot. John Citizen is the first preference on this ballot

In ranked voting systems, a first-preference vote (or first preference, 1st preference, or primary vote) is the individual voter's first choice amongst (possibly) many.[1][2][3][4] Every such system is designed, in the first instance, to align the result with the candidate(s)/option(s) which have obtained the highest number of first-preferences, and then, if necessary, this criteria is altered to allow for proportionality, and to carry surplus and/or ineffective votes to second and subsequent options depending on the system involved. Ballots with no clear first preference (no preference, or multiple first preferences) are generally regarded as a spoilt vote The term is also used (trivially) in first past the post systems.[5] First preference votes are used by psephologists and the print and broadcast media to broadly describe the state of the parties at elections and swing between elections.[4][5][6]


  1. "Explainer: What is preferential voting?". Special Broadcasting Service.
  2. "How the Dáil is Elected" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, (Ireland). November 2014. p. 10. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  3. ""Full transcript - David Cameron - The case against AV - London - 18 February 2011"". New Statesman. 18 February 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  4. 1 2 "By-Election: Carlow-Kilkenny". RTÉ. 23 May 2015. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  5. 1 2 "First Preference Vote". University of Western Australia. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  6. "Cooma-Monaro Shire Council: Summary of First Preference Votes for each Candidate". Local Government Elections 2012. Electoral Commission of New South Wales. 14 September 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.

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